Stories From the Squad Car: Biker Shooting

In September of 2011, I was a newer patrol man with about two years of experience in my department in northern Nevada. I remember starting the night out in briefing and responding to a domestic shortly after being relieved. My partner and I arrived at the location and were met by a male and female in their mid-40s at the front door of their home. The female was visibly upset, and the male appeared to be angry. We entered the residence and separated the two, attempting to get information on what had happened between them during the night.

The Call From Dispatch

After about 10 minutes inside the residence speaking with the couple, a radio transmission was dispatched about a gang-related shooting with hundreds if not thousands of outlaw motorcycle gang members at a local casino. The agency responsible for the casino was requesting as many units as possible to respond and assist.

In my area, we use 10 codes. The 10 code they used for this incident was 10-78, meaning an officer or officers need immediate assistance. I spoke with my partner about the call which had just gone out, we spoke shortly about me leaving and him staying on the scene of the domestic to continue the investigation. My concern with leaving him by himself was domestic situations are volatile and many officers have been hurt or killed responding to or investigating them. Based on the urgent request for more units, the number of individuals involved, and a shooting occurring, my partner told me to respond to the shooting, and he would be OK on this call.

When I left the domestic, I ran straight to my patrol car, which at the time was a Dodge Charger. Once I crawled into it, I notified dispatch that I would be en route, Code-3. Code-3 means I would respond with my red and blue lights on, along with a siren. The time from my current location to the new location was about a 10-minute drive following the posted speed limits. I figured with my driving ability and the cars
performance I would have about five minutes of drive time before I arrived at the scene.

police charger

Mental Preparation

Remembering back to my academy training as well as the training up to this time, I was taught to use mental preparation for each incident I responded to. I first thought about the equipment I would need upon arrival. One of the issues I prepared for was what weapon was needed to better complete the mission.  In my patrol vehicle, I carried a patrol rifle with an Aimpoint Pro, Winchester 55-grain Ballistic Silver Tip in 30-round Magpul PMAGs, in a Santa Cruz rifle lock. The rifle was carried in car condition, which is an empty chamber, loaded magazine in the magazine well, and the firing group disengaged, leaving the safety selector in the fire position. I also had a department-issue Remington 870 with Winchester double-aught buckshot in the magazine tube, with a side saddle carrying six rounds of Winchester slugs. The 870 was also stored in car condition, loaded magazine tube, the chamber empty, and the trigger group disengaged. This allows you to cycle the bolt and load the 870 chamber without pressing the bolt release.

I also thought about what I would face once I arrived. What if there is still shooting? If I see a biker shooting another biker, what is my legal authority? I began to question myself, wondering if I could stay calm and if I would make good decisions. The biggest concern I had was being brave in the face of danger.

Shortly before arriving, I removed the rifle from its lock and prepped it by placing it on the passenger seat. I chose the rifle due to the area I was responding to. The casino in question is a 20-plus level structure spread out on more than 10 acres of property. I figured if I needed to use a weapon it would be at longer ranges and with multiple individuals around the possible threat.

On the Scene

Upon arrival at the casino’s exterior, I remember seeing more police vehicles than I ever could have imagined. I never knew there were so many law enforcement personnel in my area.

Dispatch told me to respond to the west entrance, so I drove my patrol vehicle around the building and parked where I could view the west-facing exit. I exited my patrol vehicle with my patrol rifle. Once out of the car, I pulled the rifle charging handle to the rear, loaded a round into the chamber, and placed the safety selector on safe.

I began to approach the west-facing entrance and noticed several casino-owned vehicles parked in front of the entrance, under each of the vehicles I noticed what looked to be 20 to 30 weapons. The weapons were anything from knives, and bats, to firearms. The hairs on the back of my neck began to rise and I began to get nervous. At the same time, I noticed bikers exiting the west entrance in an attempt to leave the scene of the incident. I knew they were outlaw motorcycle gang members (OMG) due to the leather vests they were wearing. This particular gang has a bright neon green patch making them easily identifiable.

I placed the group at gunpoint and ordered them to the ground with their arms out away from their body, they complied. I had to get on the radio and ask dispatch for some more units to assist me with detaining the subjects. After a short time, I had other officers on scene, and we began to detain the subjects with handcuffs and search them all for weapons. Several of the subjects had knives, all were compliant and respectful. After detaining the individuals, we would get their information, run them for warrants and release them. This continued throughout the night, my small group of officers detained around 30 individuals during the night.

(Photo: Shutterstock)

After it had slowed down at my location, I remember hearing a disturbance from the north side of the casino around 100 yards away. It sounded like an officer was having issues with detaining a subject. I began to run towards the disturbance and found an officer in a wrestling match with a drunk biker. Several officers arrived around the same time and assisted the first officer with the detention of the drunk biker. After a short struggle we had the drunk biker detained, he continued to yell and cuss at us but was no longer physically aggressive.

After the incident had died down, I was reassigned to assist my department’s SWAT team. I had recently become a member of the team but was too new to assist in the mission they were given. Because I was so new, my job was to assist with retrieving the equipment they needed to complete a sweep of the casino parking garage.

At the end of the incident, a well know OMG leader was murdered and two other OMG members had been shot. As a newer patrol officer, this would be the first major news-making event of my career. I remember seeing the national news covering the incident and thinking, that happened in my town. I learned a ton from this incident. Most of all I learned to keep my cool and mental preparedness helps in a dangerous environment.

Daniel has been in law enforcement for nearly 15 years. During his career he has worked for a large Sheriff’s department in Nevada on such assignment as detention, courts, court transport, patrol, and S.W.A.T. He is currently a full-time rangemaster. Daniel has numerous firearms, tactics and instructor certifications, to include: handgun, shotgun, carbine, less lethal, force on force, low light, certified armorer, basic and advanced S.W.A.T. schools. He has instructed many students for LMS Defense and is one of the founder-owners of Crucible Consulting. Follow or connect via Instagram, @crucible_consultants.

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